A high-decibel lib-soliloquy by a 40-year-old housewife in Rochester, N.Y., who takes the oh-so-familiar journey from a numb acceptance of a bland marriage through raging self-scrutiny to selfhood. The novel begins with the promise of some dark comedy--as housewife Clara is visited by a young blonde who announces that she's pregnant by Clara's professor-husband Jason. (""Thank you, Kristen,"" says Clara, ""for dropping by."") But then begins Clara's agonizing reappraisal as she wonders if she's failed as wife and sex partner. She reviews courtship and marriage, recalling her onetime literary ambition: ""merging into somebody else, it just got lost . . . I poured my energy, submerged my desire. . . into him and his talent. . . . And what was I? Not much. Not very much."" She also burrows into her Mississippi childhood--a middle, ignored child whose parents were delighted when she married well. (""Jason would take over my life where my parents left off."") So now, alternately raging and numb with shock, Clara roots for an immediate solution and finds an answer: old college chum Mickey Caparella, a New Orleans real estate tycoon. Clara flies south to Mickey; there's friendly sex, as Clara discovers that she's a sexual mini-bombshell. But, best of all, she's found she's ""courageous, reaching out to another human being for help."" Thus, returning to Jason and her two children, Clara gives her buttoned-up husband one last chance to be honestly emotional, then leaves to start a new life/career in Florida. Admittedly, Clara's often wisecracky rages (with rasping sexual fantasies) do pound along at a snappy pace. But the two men in her life are dim pawns--and this is mainly a predictable retread of the old self-actualization path, banged out in bongo drums.